Port Townsend #3: Rhody Run 10k

That’s right, what kind of moron goes on holidays and signs up for a race, last-minute?

Yeah, haha. This moron!

It was very much on a whim. I saw that they had a race as part of their annual rhododendron festival called ‘Rhody Run’ and was like yep that’s it. I’m signing up! And sooo I did, haha. I couldn’t sign up only due to entries being maxed out, but they were allowing the day-before registration so we spent the day out at Fort Worden and then swung by the Fairgrounds around 3pm to sign up, and it was effortless, took 10 mins. Then the race was the next morning!

Ian got to dig through shirts to find one I wanted to wear, and off we went!

Of course we’d walked over 10k that day alone, and basically spend the rest of the afternoon drinking beer, but heyyyy…why not do a race? I slept HORRIBLY the entire weekend, which was the only downer part of the time but oh well.

Sunday dawned bright and early and we were back at the Fairgrounds (ok like a 7 minute drive hahahah) and I had my bib on ready to race!

Pre-race

The race had so many participants, they said it was a record sell-out. They had 10k and then 5k starting immediately afterwards. We got in line and were off!

Not gonna lie, I was hot already. I was very unused to the sun (hello, it hasn’t been sunny and warm for ONE day here in Victoria..not one day) and I was wearing long sleeves, gloves, long pants to run in every single day and freezing. So I ended up wearing my sleeping shorts for the race, hahah since I had only packed long pants/spandex tights due to it being so miserably cold the entire ‘spring’.

It was a challenging course, a few rolling hills and then QUITE the hill at oh… KM 5-6 I think? I can’t remember exactly other than cursing myself for signing up hahaha. Also someone was playing Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire soundtrack at like KM 3 and it made me feel really good, like Rocky!!

There was one screaming downhill at like KM 7 I think, and wow it was nuttssss…I was pretty sure I was going to fall hahah.

I was running alone a lot, there was one guy ahead of me who stopped to walk at like KM 8? The top woman was unreachable to me, but I held 2nd place the entire way which felt really nice πŸ™‚

Zipped to the finish, and immediately took off my shirt, I was so hot. Also forgot that I’d packed my worst, saggiest sports bra b/c I really didn’t think we’d be running that much. Hah, whoops! Then the marine fog rolled in and I felt cold again.

We enjoyed some post-race snacks and Ian snapped some pics for me, and I was the happy recipient of a medal for first in my AG and a $200 gift card to Amazon for being second female. YEAH!!! Thanks Port Townsend, you rock!!

Next up: Fourth and final farewell to Port Townsend

Big changes

I’m moving on from my workplace of 11 years and while this is a change I really wanted to make, I also feel very strange about it now?!

Going to miss these crazy kooks!

I started here when I had just turned 25, and now I am turning 37. Where did the time go? I’ve really valued the friendships I’ve made here and my colleagues are great people, but I came to the realization that with just under 6 months left before my sabbatical, it was time to make a more permanent change and leave my current office.

I’m staying in the same position but handling some different aspects, something I haven’t done in oh, about 7 years?? But the change is necessary and important for both my mental health and personal growth. I need to take more proactive steps towards a future that I can believe in.

So here goes nothing…and a fresh start on Monday!

Some really lovely counter-canter

After a lot of strenuous trying, haha. Dressage lesson last night, and in the theme of our dressage lessons- I get SO much out of them! I feel like while I am spending a lot of $$$$$$$ on lessons, they have really strengthened my relationship with Oats. This can only be a good thing, right? πŸ˜‰

No dressage media so from an older horse show- we were probably schooling First here?

Last week we worked on me at the canter, not twisting. This week my lesson partner and I first tackled the infamous 3-loop serpentine from the First Level Tests. No joke, this serpentine was the BANE of my existence when I was showing in First Level (now haven’t shown dressage in like 2 years, thanks COVID and injury) soooo I wasn’t super thrilled to start off the bat with that challenging exercise.

BUT, ye of little faith it went super well!

We first schooled the exercise in the trot, because you can really work the angles here if you do it right. You don’t need to make it super round, you can sort of ‘straighten’ and then leg-yield casually back to the wall. When you get good, THEN you can make it round. But it can be tricky to hold that lead!

And you know what? Oats nailed it!! Right off the bat?! I was stunned. Then I was like, ok fine, that was his good lead (right), it’ll be worse on his left. But then he did it so perfectly to the left that we repeated the exercise twice and called it good. Who is this horse?!! I love it!

So then we upped the ante: Real counter-canter work. And this, friends was NOT easy for me- my brain felt like a tangle of spaghetti, it was confuzzling haha. But we persevered, worked through some things in a nice and challenging, but doable way, and we got it! We got it on the right, and then went back to the left, which was the harder lead to hold counter-canter in.

Go Oats!! Really loving our rides. πŸ™‚

Working Equitation: Day 2

Ah, the most exciting day! I was very anxious. Oats had been pretty amped the day before (hence the need for two rides, ha) but I was most worried about the two natural obstacles in the course: water, and a bank.

And I was right to be worried 😦

We went in for our first round and I immediately got DQ’d, lol. I ‘crossed my line’ on my way to start through the gates, whoops! But it went ok for the first obstacle (barrels) and then we went straight over to the bank for obstacle 2 and the wheels came off Oats’ brain. He was TERRIFIED of the bank. Would NOT go near it, at all. Well-meaning folks were like, well if you tried walking up to it slowly? Hahahahhah yeah, if he would stop rearing and running backwards, maybe I could…But I couldn’t get near it. Not one iota.

Speed round, video courtesy of Shelly Donaldson!

He was stressed and amped as hell, and we got permission to move on, having been disqualified already. He felt very tense and rigid, and was thinking about bucking me off. We went over to the garoccha line and he was good until we went to the bull for the rings and he spooked at the bull and I dropped the ring, and almost my pole! Hahaha.

The rest of the course was edgy and very tense but manageable. He didn’t really want to go through the water but then he did! I was surprised he did, when the bank was such a major issue?! I then messed up the entry to the double slalom (missed going through the cones the correct way) and got confused, ha. DQ number 3 or 4??

And then we hopped over the jump, got the jug, and cantered through the finish lines, where Oats started building up a head of steam and tried to buck me off going through the finish gates!! I had to pull him up, roughly, and then salute to the judge. They were laughing! hahaha.

Then for the Speed Round, same course (ARGHHHH) but no jug, only single slalom and one way through the cattle pen. Still the bank 😦 So I knew we’d get DQ’d and I was thinking about scratching, to be honest.

But, we took a break (Oats was SO THIRSTY allll weekend, poor dude), untacked and then chilled out. It was quite hot out too.

Afternoon, we tacked back up for Speed Round. I was kind of dreading it, but also thought who cares? This is all for schooling. And boy, was it! We went in for our round, and I took special care to NOT cross my lines hahah. We started well again, the barrels and then had a different idea for the bank- a trainer there suggested we go up above it, and then down to it. Did it work? A resounding NOPE! He danced, ran, spun, reared and generally freaked out.

So……DQ again.

And we skipped it, and he only had one ‘gonna buck you off!’ moment immediately afterward heading to the Garrocha line (where he was good but I missed the loop, shit!). Otherwise he was even a real trooper about going into the water, slightly hesitant but good! πŸ™‚

We did get permission to school the bank after the competitors were done. I had someone come with me (my trainer who is helping me practice the obstacles at home) and I led him up to it in-hand. He snorted bigtime, but then happily followed me up the bank. And then down and then back up. I hopped back on, and we walked up to it and over on a loose rein. Easy-peasy! πŸ™‚ How I WISH we had been able to do that in the competition…It would have saved him and me a lot of tension and angst eh?? Five minutes of introducing it to him and done! Good Oats.

It was a challenging weekend but did help me get out of my own head for a bit.

Jump lesson #5

And it went quite well! As I have been working back up to our regular height/ability with Oats, I did find myself getting freaked out by going ‘too fast’ and feeling rusty and out of control. We addressed that by trotting in to a line instead of cantering, and it has made all the difference.

Still needs work? My legs felt flappy and weird trotting in this week, and Oats was crooked as all hell, funny enough with a big LEFT drift even though he tends to drift right?

Wheee! Mega-dramatic release by me over a tiny jump πŸ™‚

Also I kind of gave up leg-wise and we had two mega chips every evident in the video, hahahah. My fault, 100%. When I actually ‘rode’ to the jump, things were great. If I gave up? Well, chip-city and a re-do. Oats has been performing really well, honest to a fault. It’s just me that needs to get their butt in gear!

And then of course I ride on Wednesday and I don’t know what it is about Wednesdays but Oats is always SO bad?! He picks that day to really lose his mind about every single corner in the arena, regardless of whatever is going on IN those corners…Yesterday he lost his mind about a squirrel outside the arena in one corner, and then had a comically dramatic meltdown including a rapid backpedal at warp speed when the trainer moved the wheelbarrow…. Sheesh. Maybe I should just start giving him Wednesdays off?? Save us a bit of drama and hassle? He’s such a gem on Tuesdays and then kind of a nightmare on Wednesdays. ARgh.

All in all, I’m very happy with our progress. Good boy! πŸ™‚

Between the breaths

I had my dressage lesson on Thursday, and I was feeling apprehensive. Why is it that my rides are SO GOOD in my lessons, and then so….underwhelming, disappointing, frustrating on my own?

I mean look at this handsome boy, who wouldn’t love him?

So I did it. I owned up to my trainer and told her that I had been struggling, and how do I change it?

Well, firstly, she called me on my BS and said I needed to change my attitude and expectations first. I had a bad attitude about progress- wanting too much and accepting too little, ha. And that my rides previously were great chiefly because I had no expectations about them- they just ‘were’ and it was great!

From last summer- so nice! We’ll get there πŸ™‚

It’s all true, isn’t it?

So we worked on developing a good, solid canter, one that I can take to a jump, or to a circle or anywhere. It felt really nice! And we also worked on a better mental state, one that accepts fluctuations in my ride and in my day. Can I accept that the day I come with a plan could get derailed? And be positive and kind about my ride? Yes, I definitely can.

And now I need to start!

My rides this weekend were great actually- not amazing, but solid, no-drama rides. Getting me and Oats where I needed to go. I only wanted to start the tension yesterday, and ended up letting it go, phew. Saturday I was actually in a pretty bad, amped up mood: I locked my keys and phone in the car at the feed store, fun fun. Ended up cooling my heels for awhile after I borrowed a phone to call the tow truck, and then a cool $70 to get it opened up! Shoot!

I was at the feed store to buy a fattening product for Oats, as he has been losing weight as an oldster who is getting back into work regularly now (four weeks, can you believe it??). He needs more help to address his weight, as I noticed in the past two weeks I had to put my girth up two extra holes on each side! Funny that I was so worried about him blowing up and getting chubby only a few months ago….Well, the work is good for him, and soon he will be back at his regular weight with a little extra help. Poor guy is getting skinny!

We also had our farrier appointment on Friday and he was well behaved, which is always a treat. πŸ™‚

And me? My leg injuries are still giving me a lot of stress and trouble. Had another shockwave session on my left leg last week, which was excruciating, and had my hip tendon worked on (crunched the hell out of it squatting down at the barn and pulled it out, and it never went back in for weeks= pain and discomfort). So, hoping something works out for once?!!! Been now two months. Yay.

Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

The heart of a dark star: Jump lesson update

Ok, you know how I was saying how amazing my dressage lesson was, and how we were killing it? Picture that, but like..the total opposite in my jump lessons. ARGH. My release was all over the place, wicked right drift, you name it, we were doing it.

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Miss this- the sun, having this outdoor, jumps, everything. This year is turning out to be the worst yet!Β 

Oats tripped over the grid we were working on and almost face-planted through it. He couldn’t trot or canter a single pole without hitting it, HARD.

It didn’t feel that harmonious and I wanted to fix it, but you know what? It also didn’t feel scary or intimidating, just kind of frustrating. I want to be back where I was, you know? Confidently cantering 2’6-2’9” courses, instead of…face-planting through a tiny grid. HAH.

Oh well, I guess by lesson 3 back, I have not yet gotten it all figured out, that’s for darned sure. SO humbling and painful, ha.

Lessons we learn…not always the ones we intend on.

Also another gripe about the weather: It sucks. It always sucks here. We don’t get summer, apparently…Just wind, rain, sun, wind, rain and more wind. I’m freezing!!

Oh and I had the farrier out (love his new farrier) and Oats was TERRIBLE for her. Sheesh. What a jerkface. AND he tried to run over one of the girls at the barn in a bid to escape his paddock. He can be the biggest brat ever!

My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,Β  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going.Β 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! πŸ™‚

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

β€œIt was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Cobble Hill 10k Race Recap!

So this is exciting- we had a new start/finish line this year! Previously we had to jog about 700m to the start/finish, from the staging area. Not a big deal but also kind of a pain in the ass, haha.

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Heading to the finish! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

Apparently this would also make the course flatter/faster?! Would it?? Time would tell for me πŸ™‚

I was fresh off of feeling super irritated about my efforts at the Harriers 8k. It just…sucked. I did get proactive about it, and sought treatment for my asthma (now I am the proud owner of two inhalers- 1 rescue inhaler to use before/after racing, and 1 daily inhaler for maintenance), plus this race I made sure to take an extra half dose of my daily allergy medication just in case (wow, I sound super high maintenance these days…). So I was all set!

I also did not have great expectations. Lately my legs have felt super flat, dead, achy left knee, bad lungs/breathing…Yeah, you got the idea.

I was talking with my friend’s husband about the Harriers race and he too had a tough race- though he is VERY fast. So, it wasn’t just me riding the struggle-bus. That made me feel slightly better.

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A few of the winners- I am the shortest by a head, again. HAh!

The morning of the 10k dawned nice and warm, and what’s that?Β SUn?Β It was crazy warm for us! I was regretting wearing my long-sleeved run shirt. Now, I never regret dressing warmly, ha. It was just a gorgeous weekend! We warmed up, I took my inhaler, and we were off to the start! It was a very congested start- only half the road, so everyone was crammed to the left. I left 5 seconds on the table with that start, yikes.

We were off, and I was kind of struggling. It felt hard, definitely not easy, my legs felt tired immediately and heavy, and my breathing- despite my multiple efforts- wanted to seize. But you know what? I felt like, oh ok well this is how it is going to be then…A repeat of the 8k…And I just grimly kept running.

And it kept kind of sucking, up until about 5k. Something just CLICKED! In my body!

I felt solidified, I felt energized, I wasΒ doing it, by god!!Β  I gathered together my energy, and I started really running, and I mean it. I was actively racing! I honestly haven’t felt that kind of ‘try’ in my body for over a year. It was really exciting πŸ™‚

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This photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell.Β 

And I ran, and I ran. I was finally doing it!

I was running a race, rather than being run off my feet by it. I quite literally found my stride. It felt so good, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I felt to be running a race that I felt like I could actually run, rather than struggling or suffering.

I wrapped up and my time was fine- I got the same time last year and was mad, but this year, I have been trying to manage so many other health issues that to be quite honest, it made me happy! Am I back?? Maybe too soon to tell, but I felt good about it.

Chip time was 43:32, gate time was 43:37, good for 5th in my AG and 14th woman. YEah!!Β  A lovely day with some AMAZING food- pretzels from True Grain!!